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Project Experience

Virginia Key Beach Park Museum


Virginia Key is an island just south of the city that has played an important part in the civil rights struggle of African Americans in southern Florida, and has many significant memories. It was informally the only place where African Americans could swim and recreate (all other beaches being “Whites-Only”), until 1945 when a “wade-in” at one of the White beaches led to the formal designation of it as a “Colored Beach”. By 1918 it already had a great outdoor dance floor, but after its official designation it became even more popular for families, adding a carousel and a mini-train, along with food and changing facilities. In the mid-1960s a second “wade-in” forced the integration of all Miami beaches, and by 1982 Virginia Key Beach was closed.

Lord Cultural Resources was selected to plan the Museum and Visitor Center that would tell the whole story of the Park, seen as part of the larger story of African Americans in southern Florida, in the context of their origins from within the US, the Caribbean and Latin America, and ultimately Africa. Lord Cultural Resources produced a Concept Plan, advised on the National Architectural Competition, and selected Display Dynamics Inc. as exhibition concept designer.